WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Retail sales increased for the tenth straight month in April, further evidence that the retail sector and consumer spending continue to lead the economic recovery. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for April increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from March and 4.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year, a positive but modest increase compared to previous months’ results, evidence that some consumers are beginning to feel the strain of high food and gas costs.
“For the retail industry to continue to lead the charge, Congress must address the legislative uncertainty from issues like credit card company ‘swipe’ fees, uncompetitive tax laws, and the new health care law.”
“With ten consecutive months of growth, retailers are on the front lines of economic recovery, though higher commodity prices are beginning to weigh on some consumers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “For the retail industry to continue to lead the charge, Congress must address the legislative uncertainty from issues like credit card company ‘swipe’ fees, uncompetitive tax laws, and the new health care law.”
“Positive economic indicators such as increases in job openings and wage growth are certainly helping boost consumers’ confidence, and support spending,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While there are reasons to be optimistic, plenty of other concerns exist which could very easily shift consumers’ spending habits, including decreasing home prices, high unemployment levels and rising costs at the pump.”
April retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 7.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Specific results include:
- The Easter holiday helped boost apparel sales last month with clothing and clothing accessory stores seeing gains of 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 8.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Sales at electronic and appliance stores decreased 2.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 1.0 percent unadjusted from last year. Home furnishing and building material stores felt the pinch last month, both seeing only slight or no gains. Sales at furniture stores decreased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted over March and increased 1.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Building material and garden equipment stores sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but decreased 5.6 percent unadjusted over April of last year.
- Health and personal care stores, oftentimes proving resilient against frugal consumers, also saw decreases last month. Sales at these stores decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over March but increased 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
As the world’s largest retail trade association, NRF has the unique ability to represent the full breadth and scope of the retail industry. NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution including department stores, discount retailers, grocers, chain restaurants and drug stores. Membership also includes industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion.